Budget

Bill would cut congressional salaries

Ron DeSantis

Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.)

Federal employees are used to frozen wages and furlough fears at this point, but pay for members of Congress has so far remained unscathed. That could eventually change, if one congressman’s bill successfully makes it through the legislative process.

That constitutional protection that exempts congressional salaries from the sequester is something Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) finds unfair, so he introduced a bill on March 14 that would reduce the pay for members of Congress -- as soon as it is "constitutionally permissible," the congressman said during a floor speech the day before.

"Much has been said about sequestration, but few have mentioned what bothers me most about it: the pay of members of Congress is exempted under the sequester," DeSantis said. "When members of Congress exempt themselves from the operation of the law, it’s not only unfair but it actually violates the core principle of Republican government."

Citing James Madison’s writing in The Federalist Papers, DeSantis said House representatives should not pass laws from which they are exempt, "saying make no law which will not have its full operation on themselves and their friends, as well as on the great mass of the society."

Members of Congress "must live under the same rules as anybody else," DeSantis said. "Our founding fathers expected it, the American people demand it."

The proposal would slash congressional pay by 8.2 percent, DeSantis told Fox News on March 14. Congress is constitutionally barred from adjusting members' own pay until an election has taken place. The intent was to prevent legislators from giving themselves immediate raises, but the 27th Amendment says that no variation in compensation – whether up or down -- is allowed until "until an election of representatives shall have intervened."

So DeSantis' pay reduction could take effect with the next Congress. "It’s a small money saver, but it speaks to a larger principle," the congressman said.

The freshman representative is no stranger to pay-related legislation. On Jan. 15, DeSantis introduced his first bill, H.R. 273, to overturn an executive order giving nonmilitary federal employees a raise. The proposal passed the House on Feb. 15, but has not moved in the Senate.

About the Author

Camille Tuutti is a former FCW staff writer who covered federal oversight and the workforce.

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Reader comments

Sat, Mar 30, 2013 Georgia

Great idea, but 8.2% is not enough. It needs to be 20% because that is what DOD folks are losing when they get furloughed this summer.

Mon, Mar 18, 2013

A cut to their pay is the same as asking the average family to give up 10 bucks a year. It's a token drop compared to their outside income sources.

Fri, Mar 15, 2013 Beltway billy

How about just cutting their staff's budget by 20%? They all could do that now.... but no, because that would actually affect them.

Fri, Mar 15, 2013 Cowboy Joe

Agree with "SP" above - with this addition - in a lot of the private sector when a "franchise" fails this badly, only the very few outstanding performers would be allowed to reapply for their old jobs back. We should probably have at least an 80% turn-over after the next election cycle - interim recall elections should not be out of the question.

Fri, Mar 15, 2013

So would it be unconstitutional for their pay to be put on a pay for play basis? In other words, they forfeit their pay if they don’t get constitutionally mandated duties done by constitutionally mandated deadlines, the budget for instance. Treat them like scofflaw contractors.

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